This was a fun evening.
Like the Golden Globes are to the Oscars, this event was the more loose, humorous and fun alternative to the normally boring, stuffy performances that the NHL puts on. The players were free to let their hair down, with the solo cups piling up in the green room and at the feet of the already-selected players on stage.
The night was not without its highlights. To kick things off, there was a puck flip to determine who would pick first- Nick Foligno or Jonathan Toews. To the delight of the home fans in attendance, Foligno won the flip and wasted no time in selecting teammate Ryan Johansen.
The next player taken was a bit of a surprise- after being infamously taken with the last pick in the inaugural All Star Fantasy Draft, Phil Kessel was drafted by Team Toews. I'm still not sure if this was a troll job by Toews or if he was legitimately showing support for Kessel. I'd like to think it was the latter, especially after Toews referred to Kessel as the "most coachable player in the league". That's a big middle finger to former Leafs coach Ron Wilson, and it's well deserved.
After the eleventh round, the four rookies were split into two pairs- Jonathan Drouin and Jiri Sekac were one duo, while Johnny Gaudreau and Mike Hoffman were the other. Though the NHL posted that there would be another puck flip to determine who gets to select their preferred rookies, there was an audible on-stage and it was determined that Toews, loser of the opening puck flip, would get his choice of rookies. He select Johnny Hockey and The Hoff, while Foligno added Drouin and Sekac.
The teams were allowed one trade, and the captains gathered together to hammer out a deal. History was on their minds, and the two teams consummated the first trade in All Star Fantasy Draft history- Tyler Seguin, drafted by Team Foligno, was traded to Team Toews for Kessel. There is certainly humor in this deal, well played by the captains.
Zemgus GIrgensons is a fun story. His entire nation was behind him, making him the leading vote-getter for this event. The poor guy must have dropped some au jus from dinner on his shirt shorty before the event tonight, as he was clearly wearing an emergency shirt. With no access to an iron, poor Zemgus had crease lines aplenty which didn't go unnoticed from the players around him.
One of the themes of the evening was the insistence by Alexander Ovechkin that he wanted to be taken last, because he "needed" the free car they always give to Mr. Anonymous. The teams held off in drafting him, but Foligno decided that Ovy's potential for Skills competition heroics and big game ability were worth his potential wrath, and took him with the 33rd of 35 picks.
The final two players available - Filip Forsberg and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, were then brought to the stage. Their selection was up to an NBC fan vote, with Nugent-Hopkins winning the vote as the "best fit for Team Foligno". In a bit of a surprise, both players received a free car, with Ovechkin shaking his head in the background.
Here's a full run-down of the picks, lines are arbitrary.
Doughty - Keith
Rookies (Skills competition only): Gaudreau, Hoffman
The skills competition is tomorrow at 7:00pm ET, while the All Star Game itself is Sunday at 5:00pm ET.
I like Team Foligno's balance, but Team Toews has the more skill on paper. It should make for a fun weekend!